Five Stars of the Cubs Farm, 5/31/22: The Day Kevin Alcántara Hit One VERY FAR Out of the Ballpark

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Five Stars of the Cubs Farm, 5/31/22: The Day Kevin Alcántara Hit One VERY FAR Out of the Ballpark

Chicago Cubs

Just know, I love that you love Christopher Morel. It’s the best part about writing up prospects, when that happens.

Let’s break down the day in the minors for the Cubs …

Honorable Mention: Matt Mervis has the OPS in Double-A up to .969 after reaching base three more times yesterday … This should be Jeremiah Estrada’s final week in South Bend. It’s time for the Tennessee test … Two more hits for Kevin Made, who has reached in 18 straight games … Jordan Wicks got BABIP’d to death in his start (4 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), but there were some good moments. Todd Johnson of Northside Bound was nice enough to capture this three-pitch strikeout of stud prospect Elly De La Cruz for me:

Five: Danis Correa

Last 5 appearances: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K. But, more importantly…

Four: Darius Hill, John Hicks and Jake Slaughter

Slaughter’s home run should count for two, because he did it off Dayton starter Joe Boyle, who entered the night having allowed just six hits in 33.2 innings in High-A this year. Boyle, a fifth-round pick in 2020, was one of the most impressive pitchers I’ve seen face a Cubs affiliate all year (I couldn’t believe, when I looked, that he wasn’t in the Reds top 25 prospects at MLB Pipeline). Boyle is 6-foot-7 and throws a 95-99 mph fastball with tons of carry, and now has this nasty 80 mph curveball that plays off the high heat perfectly. But credit to Slaughter, who homered to dead center off Boyle’s third pitch: a relatively ordinary (well, except for the velocity) 90 mph slider.

Really cool moment for Darius Hill, who gets promoted to Iowa, put right into the lineup as a leadoff hitter, and then homers on the first Triple-A pitch he sees (which, as you’ll see below, was a pretty good pitch):

Three: Levi Jordan and Alexander Canario

I spoke with Jordan by phone on Monday for a profile coming in another day or two, so I won’t step on that. But he’s been beyond good in 2022, and I think there is a real prospect there with a blossoming skillset. More soon.

After Jordan tied it in the seventh, Canario sent the go-ahead shot out in the eighth, his fifth home run with Tennessee and twelfth in 2022. The problem for Canario is that he’s not yet found a way to provide value with the Smokies except his home runs, with three walks against 30 strikeouts in his 20 games at the level. He’s a big talent with a 90+ percentile skill, so we just have to let the development process run its course and dream about the what-could-be.

Two: Luis Devers

Beyond just the May that might win him a Pitcher of the Month award, it’s been a fabulous last seven starts for the right-hander: 33.1 IP, 21 H, 1.35 ERA, 8 BB, 37 K. Here are my notes on each of the six strikeouts last night, as an entryway into talking about his stuff:

1. Full-count changeup against a lefty batter, his second whiff with the offering during this at-bat.

2. Comeback fastball onto the outer corner against a righty batter, earning a defensive swing-and-miss.

3. Devers loves to mess with hitter’s timing by changing his delivery, and a well-executed quick-pitch fastball tailing off the plate (following a good strike-two changeup) looked good here.

4. Good right-on-right changeup (and kind of a quick-pitch) that disappeared down to the dirt.

5. Three-pitch strikeout against a lefty batter: fastball-changeup-changeup. Between the second and third pitch, couldn’t have taken more than five seconds.

6. Battles back from 2-0 hole, finishes outing with a full-count curveball (his fourth most used pitch).

One: Kevin Alcántara

Four hundred forty-eight feet. One hundred and thirteen miles per hour off the bat. Those are the relative statistics for Alcántara’s mammoth home run last night (where he also added value with a triple and sacrifice fly), numbers that only nine home runs at the Major League level have matched during the 2022 season. When you’re hanging in the Aaron Judge, Vlad Junior, Jorge Soler part of the Baseball Savant search, you’re a special player.

Given his size and long levers, teams will surely attack Alcántara on the inner half for his entire life in professional baseball. But moments like this will plant seeds of doubt in pitcher’s heads, because Alcántara’s athleticism allows him to clear his hips while keeping his hands back, and with his hand speed, can just get around and meet any pitch at the perfect contact point. I said recently that Alcántara has impressed me as much in 2022 as any Cubs prospect, because he’s shown great instincts and great coach-ability to go along with his massive talent.

This guy has a chance to be an absolute star.

Author: Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.